SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — As coronavirus deaths continue to increase, Orange County hospitals are being forced to find extra storage space outside of their morgues.
There were 8,990 coronavirus cases and 25 deaths reported on Monday, which includes data for the following days: 1/2/21-1/3/21 and 1/4/21 until 12 p.m., instead of 6 a.m., the county said.
To date, Orange County has reported 170,579 cases of COVID-19 and 1,926 deaths among the more than 2.1 million tests conducted.
The influx of cases has contributed to more deaths and thus, lead to a crisis within funeral homes that are working to find enough capacity to account for the increase.
“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve experienced death over the 10 months of the pandemic; however, over the last 30 days, over a third of COVID deaths have occurred, so our morgue is 100 percent full, and we’ve had to move patients to our refrigerator truck,” said Derek Drake, the CEO of the Orange County Global Medical Center.
The Orange County coroner recently began accepting decedents from hospitals to help with overflow, and mortuaries throughout the county reported that they are bringing in temporary refrigeration units to handle the unprecedented caseload.
Kimberly Worl, the Orange County Funeral Directors Association president, explained that her industry began seeing a big jump right before Christmas.
Nearly every local funeral home has had to make plans for many more families than would normally be the case.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before, never in my 15 years, even during some of the busiest months that I’ve worked, I’ve never seen funeral homes running out of space,” Worl said. “We’re all in this together right now. It’s very difficult for the hospitals because they’re running out of space, and we’re running out of space, so we need to find ways, like we said, the temporary storage at our facilities to help out the hospitals.”
Before the pandemic, Worl said a family might wait seven days for funeral home services, but now it takes between 10 to 15 days because of the big jump in cases and subsequent deaths.